Minn. gov vetoes bill with ATV restrictions

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) vetoed a game and fish bill on Friday in part because of ATV use restrictions added late in the process, the Star Tribune reported.

The restrictions, which were added without hearings, would have changed the definitions of Class 1 and 2 ATVs and would have therefore restricted some ATVs from certain trails.

Traditionally, Class 1 ATVs have been those under 900 pounds in which riders straddle the seats, while Class 2 has included machines up to 1,500 pounds, such as side-by-sides. The side-by-sides are restricted on some state ATV trails, but because OEMs are making some side-by-sides smaller, they now fit in the Class 1 category, according to the Minneapolis-based newspaper.

State Rep. Tom Hackbarth (R-Cedar), who added the ATV language, told the Star Tribune he offered the change as an attempt to fix an error made two years ago when legislators inadvertently changed the law to allow Class 2 ATVs on Class 1 trails.

“The Class 1 trails are meant to be more challenging and difficult; they’re not made for the wider machines,” he told the newspaper. His concern is the side-by-sides will be forced off the trail, harming the environment. Some ATV enthusiasts agree, saying side-by-sides could ruin Class 1 trails and that narrow, twisting trails may have to be straightened to accommodate side-by-sides.

Minnesota-based Polaris and Arctic Cat oppose the restrictions, as do some ATV enthusiasts, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reported to the newspaper.

Along with the ATV restrictions, Dayton also objected to fishing and livestock provisions in the bill. He said he would consider the bill in a special session if his concerns were addressed. Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty also vetoed the game and fish bill last year, according to the Star Tribune.

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